The Wicked Yard

Making The Case For Monochrome: An Artful Outdoor Hardscape Design with Granite

Posted by Amanda Pittsley on Nov 12, 2020 8:00:00 AM
Photo of a backyard patio using Swenson granite

A black and white palette is a classic, with endless design possibilities from subdued to striking. Some may think that monochrome is boring or plain, but black, white and gray—when used the right way—can bring a space to life. A hardscape project in Laconia, New Hampshire shows what can be done with monochrome design—and with granite from Swenson Granite Works.

Concord Store Manager Dennis Ames is no stranger to what can be done with Swenson Granite Works’ granite. He’s about as far from that as you can get: a second generation team member whose father opened the store on North State Street in 1990.

One of the things Ames, who has been at the retail location for 20 years, most enjoys is helping customers make their dreams a reality. And he had the opportunity to do just that with Opechee Construction, when they worked together on a residential project that gave Ames his first project utilizing a new addition to his natural stone product offering - CAMBRIAN BLACK® granite.

In 2016, Polycor and Swenson Granite Works joined forces and combined their passions for natural stone to create what is now the largest natural stone company in North America. As part of the Polycor Inc. family, Swenson now has access to their 50+ natural stone quarries which include premier granites, marbles and limestone.

The residence featured two outdoor projects that Ames worked on—a pool deck and a front entry—both utilized a similar design concept, but featured different granites, resulting in two unique spaces that complimented each other.

Back pool deck and patio of a New England home

Work began at the back of the house on a pool deck and patio, where the owner wanted a luxurious black and white “tuxedo” look. Ames walked them through their options and they soon landed on Polycor’s Cambrian Black and BETHEL WHITE® granites.

“They really liked the idea because of the way that the Bethel White and the Cambrian Black complement each other,” said Ames.

Back deck and patio photo

The linear concept features large Bethel White granite panels with striking accent lines of Cambrian Black granite, and shows how interesting and engaging monochrome design can be. It is a visually appealing, sophisticated, chic, and luxurious layout that Ames and the clients agreed would have the right amount of impact for the pool deck and entertaining area. Ames said while capturing the customer’s dream look is obviously important for any project, another selling point is how well these granites can withstand the freeze and thaw cycles you find in New England.

Example of the various stones used in the back patio and pool area

“These materials are ideal for any hardscape project here specifically in the Northeast,” he said. “I think that is a big reason why Opechee contacted us. Because they, in my opinion, thought that if they needed a good quality product they needed to go to Swenson Granite Works.”

Front of home photo incorporating Swenson granite along the walkway

For the front of the home, the owner wanted to continue that same linear design, but in a different, more subtle material. They chose WOODBURY GRAY™ granite, with strips and panels of the material mimicking the striped layout of the Cambrian Black and Bethel White granites around the pool. The front walkway has the same staggered linear look, in a consistent gray, rather than the striking black and white of the backyard. While the front doesn’t have that same dramatic contrast, it instead delivers in consistency of design. And making that design work in both spaces was more of a challenge than you may think.

Front porch using Swenson granite

“People don't always realize the work that goes into these types of projects,” said Ames. “When they see a finished project on Pinterest, they may think it’s available to purchase that way and simply assemble at home with instructions. But there are real artists, the craftsmen, the landscape architects and contractors, that are designing these projects and then putting this stuff together. They make my job easy.”

Details—like knowing to soften the edges on the stair treads and pool deck so people can get in and out of the pool without tearing up their shorts and banging up their knees— are important, and are the nuances that can make or break a project.

“From extracting the stone from the quarry, all the way to the final person that's washing it down for inspection, there is an entire process that goes into producing each piece, and together when installed on site, achieve the finished project,” said Ames. “It’s a process that ensures quality control at each phase, as we have nurtured a team of the very best quarry workers and stone artisans.”

Ames sees himself as a translator, from the customer to the production team to the installer, making sure that the customer is provided with what it is that they want and need. And a lot of times, he doesn’t get to see the finished project — the amazing “after” photo of an installation. So, this project was particularly special for him.

“When I first saw the finished project pictures I was like ‘Holy smokes!’,” said Ames. “When you see it finished, that's a great feeling.”

The simple sophistication of black, white and gray granites from Swenson Granite Works resulted in a special outdoor space at this home. Inspired to give your own home a monochrome makeover? Request a material cost quote today.

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Topics: Granite, New England, buy local

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